Can Aztekin, HIP 2013

Can Aztekin, HIP 2013
Sabanci University, Turkey

Benjamin Ebert Lab, Brigham and Women’s Hospital

When Can was thinking about applying to the HSCI Internship Program, his friends were worried that he would be disappointed.

“Most people think that applying to Harvard for an internship is scary and they generally think they will not get in,” he said. “I was saying that I can’t know the answer without trying.”

Can received his letter of acceptance, worked with the program coordinators to find housing, and then made the ten-hour trip to Boston. Walking through Harvard for the first time, he was shocked by how warm and friendly people were.

“Everyone tends to talk to you, wants to know you, and wants to help when they learn that you are a foreign student,” he said. “They want to introduce you to the environment.”

Within his first week at Harvard, Can had volunteered at the International Society for Stem Cell Research annual meeting, held in June 2013, and started his laboratory project finding inhibitors to key proteins that drive cancer.

Can credits his mentors for treating him more like a colleague than an intern. Inspired by the level of determination that his lab mates showed when they approached a question they wanted to solve, he was pushed to do his best. He thrived in HSCI’s environment of collaboration and gained expertise in laboratory technologies that were new to him.

“I knew that I wanted to pursue my PhD, but I wasn’t sure whether I am ready or not,” he said. “But with this internship, I am really confident with myself, and I think when I return to Turkey that I’ll bring that confidence with me.”